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First Death Sentences for Kidnappers

November 12, 1996

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Three men convicted of kidnapping a 76-year-old rancher have been sentenced to death, the first such sentences issued under a new law making kidnapping punishable by execution.

Guatemala’s legislature approved the law last year because of rising public outrage over a wave of kidnappings.

A court in the western province of Chimaltenango on Monday night condemned to death Carlos Enrique Tortola Escobar, 20, Cesar Augusto Soto Rivera, 19, and Marco Antonio Fuentes Marroquin, 20.

All have insisted they were innocent of the October 1995 kidnapping of Adolfo Santizo Gramajo, who was freed by police after 15 days in captivity. No ransom ever was paid.

Executions are carried out by lethal injection.

The sentences can be appealed to the same or a higher court; President Alvaro Arzu also has the power to commute sentences.

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